With two children born soon after one another, Rebbekah was struggling to cope and felt she was failing as a mum. She turned to Home-Start for support. They got her back on her feet but then circumstances in her relationship changed and she found herself fleeing the family home with her two young sons. Once again she turned to Home-Start. This is her story:

"My oldest son, Harvey, was one and my younger son, Riley, was six weeks old when we were introduced to Pauline, a Home-Start volunteer.

I’d contacted Home-Start East Lothian because I was under a lot of pressure with having the two children so close together, fifteen months in age between them. I was also suffering from emotional, physical and financial abuse within my relationship.

Reaching out for support didn’t feel natural to me, it was very daunting but Home-Start immediately felt like it was the best place for me, safe and confidential.

Our volunteer, Pauline was with us for a year, she was wonderful and things were actually going ok at the time, until unexpectedly, I became a single mum. For the safety of myself and my children I had to leave the family home in a hurry. The children were three and four years old.

Three of us had to share a single bed

There was no time for emotion, I had to just get on with things. I lost touch with Home-Start. We moved to my dad’s house where the three of us had to share a single bed. We were then offered homeless accommodation in Musselburgh before we moved to a permanent home which we now call our ‘Happy Home’, our safe place.

My parents both work full time. They help when they can of course but I needed a bit more support. I realised I could do with a little help to get me back on my feet emotionally so I got back in touch with Home-Start.

Evelyn, one of the staff members, supported me via phone calls because we were in the middle of Covid restrictions. Home- Start staff and my volunteer called regularly to make sure I was ok, they could help explain and advise on difficult decisions I had to make, helped with forms if I didn't understand questions, and where there even if I just needed a quick call to say hello.

I didn't believe I was a good mum

These phone calls were a very much appreciated, I felt like someone cared and wanted the best for me. A little while later I was paired with another wonderful volunteer, a volunteer I still see regularly today, her name is Irene. At first I was in contact with Irene via the phone also until we were allowed to meet in person.

Before I was introduced to Irene I didn’t believe I was a good mum. Things had gotten on top of me. My former partner was always putting me down. It was drummed in to my head so often that I had started to believe it.

I always thought I wasn't enough for my kids, that they would be happier if I wasn't here, but Irene always would listen and steer the conversation to help me see the good things in life, what I can and have done for my kids, how far I have come. She was always right when she said they are two happy little boys who love their mum no matter what. My confidence in myself as a person and as a mum was slowly growing.

I have never really felt I needed physical support, I needed the emotional support, I still do and I appreciate it very much. Irene offers me support today, as a friend but also as an outsider, someone to speak to, someone who’s happy to listen, give advice, laugh with and go for walks and the occasional swim with.

A year later, I have realised I am a good mum and can do this on my own. You don’t see these things when you’re in the middle of it. Sometimes it takes someone on the outside to look in. Over time I felt more and more like myself, the person I was.

Mental health improving

Little steps were taken each day but I knew I was going in the right direction. My mental health was improving and my confidence levels were increasing slowly but surely. Irene was there to point out my how far I’d come and my achievements, which meant the world. I wouldn’t be the person I am now without her support.

Even though Irene spends more time with me than the children, they know her well.  Recently, Irene was invited to one of the boy’s birthday parties. They were so happy she could come, she’s brilliant with them, a part of the family.

Having the support to build myself up from the ground up means the boys have a happier mum and a more stable home life. The foundations of our new life started with me, these have been rebuilt and are strong. My boys are safe and happy and so am I.

Things are amicable with my ex-partner and the children spend weekends with him. The kids are very happy, the age gap between them is now proving to be a blessing in many ways. They rarely fight and they are little best friends. Don’t get me wrong, all stages are hard but in different ways, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. We’re a little team.

Hopefully I can help a family like mine

Thanks to Home-Start I am a new person, I am even in the middle of training to become a Home-Start volunteer myself!

I do the online training once a week for two hours for a total of eight weeks. I love it, it is so interesting and I do it when the children are in bed at night. 

Hopefully I can help a family like mine, like I’ve been helped by Home-Start."